NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Redskins fandom started at the most opportune time.
The first game he remembers watching happened to be Super Bowl XVII, when Washington defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-17, and game MVP John Riggins ran 38 times for 166 yards and a touchdown. It was the Redskins' first franchise title.
"They win the game," he said, "and I just latched onto that. My mom started buying me helmets and jerseys and things like that for Christmas and we would suit up and get in the yard and it was a lot of fun."
Earnhardt Jr. naturally began latching onto the central figures of the 1980s and early 1990s dynasty teams, including Art Monk and Darrell Green, both Hall of Famers.
"[Monk] just seemed to always have his head on straight, always really dependable, reliable, and then Darrell Green came along." Earnhardt said. "The same type of thing -- great leader, great role model, great attitude, great personality. Good character and locker room guy."
One of the most memorable times growing up in military school, where smiling wasn't common practice, was when the team won its second Super Bowl title with Doug Williams under center. Even during races on the NASCAR track, Dale's spotter always tells him the Redskins are leading, because it puts Dale in a good mood.
After attending a couple of preseason games over the years and calling touchdowns in the booth both times, Earnhardt made a special visit to Redskins training camp this year in Richmond, Va., where he took some players around the Richmond track and caught a few passes from quarterback Kirk Cousins after practice.
He remains an avid follower of the team and likes the direction it's taking with the most recent draft.
"Got some great players on defense, got some young guys who I think, if they catch on, they'll be great players for the next several years for us," he said.
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